Pence's big night not enough as Giants blow big lead 

click to enlarge The Rockies' Michael Cuddyer, left, is congratulated upon his return to the dugout after hitting a home run off Giants closer Sergio Romo in the ninth inning on Tuesday. - BEN MARGOT/AP
  • Ben Margot/AP
  • The Rockies' Michael Cuddyer, left, is congratulated upon his return to the dugout after hitting a home run off Giants closer Sergio Romo in the ninth inning on Tuesday.

It's over, officially.

The Giants were eliminated from the National League wild-card race on Tuesday after falling to the Colorado Rockies 9-8 at AT&T Park.

The loss encapsulated the defending World Series champions' disappointing season: they started out strong before completely falling apart midway through the contest.

"It's tough to lose a game like this," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You're up 6-0 and the pitching couldn't hold it."

The Giants jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning when Hunter Pence ripped his 20th home run off the left field foul pole with Angel Pagan and Buster Posey aboard.

In doing so, Pence became the first Giants player to steal at least 20 bases and hit 20 or more home runs in a season since Barry Bonds achieved the feat in 1998. He's only the seventh player to join the 20-20 club while wearing orange and black since the club moved to The City in 1958.

"It's a great accomplishment," catcher Buster Posey said. "It's hard to not be a huge fan of Hunter because he's 100 percent every day -- from the time he gets here until the time he leaves. He's probably the hardest worker I've ever seen."

Pence said the respect he's earned from his teammates means more to him than reaching the 20-20 milestone for the first time.

"That is extremely humbling," he said, referring to the praise he received from Posey.

The soon-to-be free agent stretched the lead to 6-0 in the fourth by clubbing a double to left-center, bringing in Marco Scutaro. Then, the Giants collapsed.

After cruising through the first four innings, Ryan Vogelsong hit a wall in the fifth when the Rockies put together a five-run rally, capped off by a three-run shot from Michael Cuddyer with two outs.

"The first four innings were good," Vogelsong said. "For some reason or another, I'm just not putting it together for a full game."

Vogelsong surrendered five earned runs on eight hits over five innings of work. He's 0-1 with a 6.89 ERA over his last three starts.

"To have an outing like that after the guys played their butts off for you -- it doesn't feel good," he said.

The Rockies jumped ahead 7-6 in the sixth, tagging the bullpen for a pair of runs. They added a run in the eighth off Mike Kickham.

But unlike the season as a whole, the Giants battled back toward the end.

Pence matched his career high of six RBIs when he tied it at 8-8 in the eighth by scoring Scutaro and Brandon Belt with a line-drive single to right, his fourth hit in five at-bats.

"Last night I felt awesome in BP, my body felt great, everything felt wonderful and I didn't get any hits and had some pretty bad at bats," Pence said, adding: "Today, BP was awful. I was joking with [third base coach Tim] Flannery -- I told him about yesterday and today and I was like, I'm due for a lot of hits. Somehow it worked out."

But it didn't work out for the team in the ninth. Cuddyer hit his second home run of the game off Sergio Romo and the Giants lost for the 80th time in 145 games.

"We just couldn't hold them -- they just kept coming at us," Bochy said.

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Paul Gackle

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Monday, Sep 15, 2014

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